To Whom Belongs the Land

Land does not belong to anyone, or any group of people,

The laws which give people the right to inherit or bequeath land were set by people, to secure a home for their future generations,

There’s nothing wrong with this in principle.

However, when people take a part or the whole of other people’s land, a problem arises.

No one will surrender one’s land to anyone, unless by agreement, this is a human right which ought to be respected,

And everyone will defend one’s land by all the means available to one; this is also a human right which ought to be respected.

In the past, people have invaded other people’s lands, and have taken land by force, and sometimes they have driven the inhabitants of a land out of it by force,

This has resulted in wars which have ravaged the world, some of which have continued to the present time.

And this should not be confused with the invasion of land which does not result in driving its inhabitants out of it to replace them by the invaders,

This situation is best called occupation, which aims at ruling the invaded people, mainly for the purpose of using their resources or their strategic position for the occupier’s benefit.

There are other reasons why nations occupy other nations, such as to spread their culture or religion, as a means of self-protection,

And this gives them reassurance that they have the “correct” belief and way of life, and their god will hence be happy with them,

There may be other reasons why some people give themselves the right to occupy other people’s land,

The main subject of this essay will be invasion, for the purpose of taking the land from its owners to replace them.

And admittedly, this is a delicate subject,

Because every such invader consider themselves the rightful owners of the land, by whatever understanding and reasoning,

And the issue becomes even more complicated when a god is introduced, who supposedly has given the invader a mandate to invade.

Of course, while writing this, the many cases of invasion in our past and present times do cross my mind. And if it were not for those cases this whole essay would be pointless,

Nevertheless, I’ll be impartial, because I have been myself at both ends of such a situation: at the end of being invaded and at the end of being an invader,

Not that I had to carry arms myself and get engaged in combat in either case,

But living in a country which has been invaded, and then living in a country which was once an invader: has given me the two perspectives,

Because by one’s mere presence in a country which has been invaded, even if one is not directly affected by the invasion, gives one a sense of being invaded,

And by one’s mere choice to live and become a citizen of a country which was in recent times an invader, gives one a sense of being an invader.

I am sure that no human would disagree with the basic principle that I stated before, and that everyone will defend their land if they were invaded,

This is a human instinct which must be respected and acknowledged as a human right,

Hence the question prompts itself: whether invaders or invaded, when can people say: this is my land?

In the midst of claims and counter-claims about land ownership, an outsider to the dispute finds himself having to take the side to which he feels closer … not by a rational conviction … but by some vague emotional ties with one side … more than the other,

And often, the outsider uses an existing law as a reason for his judgement,

The problem with “laws” is that they were set by institutes and governments to suit the needs of those institutes and governments,

Universality is completely absent in the scope of their application, as well as their ethical basis,

And the problem becomes more complex again when a god is introduced,

Such a god will be used as a blank cheque for carrying out actions which have selfish aims, aimed at benefiting the believers in this god exclusively, and justifying harm and cruelty if inflicted on whoever stands in their way.

Such is the case of the Hebrew-Arab conflict today:
On one hand: the Jewish people believe they were promised by god that this land belongs to them, 
On the other hand: Muslims believe that god withdrew his promise because the Jews disobeyed him and dishonoured their covenant, and that the Muslims are now the guardians of this land.

So after a holocaust, and many centuries of discrimination and incrimination of Jews in Europe, the world gives them the right to establish the state of Israel in Palestine,

Where they can rule themselves under their laws and traditions, without the fear of discrimination, without the threat of another wave of hatred and the threat of extermination …

So the land of Palestine was partly bought and partly invaded, and its inhabitants were driven out by a campaign of fear, and occasional terrorism,

And sometimes by the persuasion of Arab leaders and media, who thought at the time that this was the safest options for many Palestinians,

And they fled by the hundreds of thousands to neighbouring countries …

Mind you, this is not an attempt of re-writing history. Those events are well documented. The problem is: to which side do you listen when you ask questions about what happened on the ground on those days? Because each side will give their version of events which justifies their ideology.

So I’d like to go back a bit and imagine a different scenario … in which a conflict could’ve been diffused, or completely avoided …

You see, the Middle East has been a refuge for people throughout history,

And by Middle East I mean particularly the area covered by Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine …

Is it because this land is considered holy, or at least parts of it, by all Western Religions?


But its geographic location: as a gateway between Asia, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean basin … is certainly very attractive,

And perhaps there is not an invader in the ancient world who has not left his footprints on its deserts and green pastures, its coasts and mountains,

The wood of its Cedar trees has built fleets of ships for the Pharaohs and the Persians …

Not to mentions the fleets of the Phoenicians, its coastal inhabitants, who traded with every nation around the Mediterranean …

Perhaps the last large wave of immigrants were the Armenians, who have settled in various parts of those countries that they call now home,

But let’s not forget the advent of Islam, which inspired the Arabs to drive out the Roman empire from there, to establish the Arabic empire, making Damascus and then Baghdad its capital …

But all this is recent history, because there has been civilisation in that land for many millennia before that: there was the Babylonians, and before them the Sumerians, to mention a few …

And now recent discoveries in the north of Iraq going into Turkey have unearthed a civilisation going back ten thousand years and more … which the Kurdish people see as their own …

So unlike Australia and the Americas … it is impossible for any historian to assert who was first in those lands, with any degree of certainty,

Moreover, it is impossible for any genetics scientist to assert who came from which of those ancient people, with any degree of certainty.

What is more intriguing: what is the name of this land, or lands?
Syria? Mesopotamia? Judea? Assyria? Canaan? Phoenicia? Arabia? Middle East? Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Iraq?

The list can go on, and each of those names flares up passions in the hearts of the people who subscribe to them …

With this background, which was known at the start of the last century, when the Zionist movement was looking for a homeland for the Jewish people, and regardless of the official promise that the movement was given by the then British government:

The leaders of the Zionist movement should’ve been well aware of the background of this land, well aware of its religious and ethnic diversity, well aware that there were people there, who had been there for as long as any other people of the world can say they were in their land …

And it was them, the educated the wealthy … and the ones who had suffered a lot of discrimination at the hands of European countries without an exception, after the Exodus which they documented in their Books,

But no, they told the world that the Palestinians didn’t exist, and that they were primitive nomads who were on the move all the time anyway,

Although, the cities of Haifa, Telaviv and Jaffa … were there, and are known to be some of the oldest cities of the world, predating Biblical times by far …

So I can’t but wonder, how history would have unfolded, if, when the Hebrew came from Europe to Palestine: they brought with them wealth and knowledge, and a big heart, to settle there and prosper and help their Arab neighbours do the same,

And I wonder, and up to recent times, if instead of building a wall to insure their safety, they built infrastructure, houses, schools and hospitals for their Arab neighbours, by a fraction of their military budget, as a gesture of friendship, and to help them better their lives,

I’m sure God would’ve been satisfied by their compassion, and the title of Israel would’ve been truly earned by them, as the abiders and the strivers in God,

Not to mention how the course of history might have changed, to the better for them and the Palestinians,

But the Zionist movement was divorced from the Judaic faith anyway, most of its founders if not all, were atheists and believed little,

What they believed in, however, was the national identity of the Hebrew people, which withstood the test of time, and had proven to be stronger than their allegiance to the countries in which they had lived for hundreds, if not thousands of years …

But above all was the belief in their superiority as a race, expressed by their religious authorities as being the chosen people, or god’s children, while the rest of humanity are an inferior breed, created to serve them,

Although many today deny this to be their belief,

But whatever their self-classification has been, they have used it as a permit to do what they do, thus they have shown time after time that they are as near sighted as their Arab neighbours,

Perhaps with the difference that they are able to give an impression to the world that they are the rational, clever and ethical ones …

But even that is fading now, every time they react to the smallest provocation, be it from a child or member of a terrorist organisation.

Using the date of the war between the Philistines and the Jews as a cutoff date of history,
Using the modern Bible which has been translated and re-written a number of times from ancient texts,
Using the tragic events of recent history of the Holocaust,
Using the best military technology there is,
Using the highest walls that they can erect around themselves,
Using an arsenal of atomic and chemical weapons hidden as a last resort,
Using the most skilled lobbyists and the best news suppression and modification tactics,
Using the huge deposits of money and gold …
And any other safety net that they have woven for themselves:
Will earn them little,

The Jewish people, and any people for that matter, can only prosper and deserve the title that they have titled themselves if they do not forsake the teaching which was given to them by their good prophets, and exchange it for petty political and material gain, lost as soon as earned.

Many a time prophets talked about the good people who will inherit the earth, and called them God’s children or family, or His angels, the dwellers of The House …

And every time, this was taken by religious institutes as a title pointing to their tribe, or the descendants of their prophets … unconditionally,

And of course, a mandate to declare themselves the rulers of the earth, or some part of it,

Striving in the way of god is thus reduced to aggression and warfare,

So that god becomes happy with them,

And the teaching and commandments which were meant to humanise them become a mandate for adhering to their heathen traditions.

And if it was true at some point that a group of people were told by a prophet that they were the good people of the earth, it was because they believed his message, at the time,

Hence if they wanted to keep that title, they had to strive constantly, to adhere to their standards in an ever changing world,

This is the true test of faith that every people has been subjected to,

Because the prophets’ teachings were not about the particular circumstances which surrounded their lives,

But indeed a universal message, transcending place and time,
Otherwise, it is not the teaching of prophets, but that of politicians, clergy and businessmen.

This is the fault that every religion and every branch of every religion in the Middle East have made, in ancient and recent times, without an exception,

And the fact that each one of those groups say that they are the good chosen ones, says that they are all wrong,

Because the reasoning they go by and the evidence they present to support their claim is the same: it does not exist,

It is the fanciful thinking of their ancestors who failed to understand the teaching of their prophets, they have hence substituted it with bigotry and self-glorification.

And this pattern of behaviour and belief backfires at its owner, always and without an exception.

No one will accept to be told: god told us we are better than you,
And they will answer immediately: god told us we are better than you,

Hence the Hebrew people who came from Europe with half-religious half-nationalistic belief, to create a new state based on such fervour, in the middle of a place which has been a stage for religious turmoil and wars for many millennia … proved to be indeed very nearsighted.

But their religious and political leaders use the state of panic they have thus created as a cause to galvanise their people,

Had they gone by their true Jewish ethic of justice and compassion, they would’ve come closer to being the Israelites, the abiders in God,

And by the laws of this world, they would’ve earned that land and the friendship of its inhabitants and ruled it by the power of justice and peace,

But they and their Arab cousins, both need an enemy to justify the perpetuation of their ideology, which revolves around war and bloodshed, which believes in a god that can only be satisfied upon seeing bloodbaths in the earth, and hearing the crying of children and their mothers …

And the Western nations, which came out as conquerors from both world wars, and which have hence heralded a new era of international laws and relations, based on freedom and equal rights for all, those nations have turned their blind eyes and deaf ears to some Israeli leaders who have blatantly said that Israel is a home for the Jews, and that they were carrying out god’s commandments by coming back to the promised land,

This is in contradiction with their values of freedom for all and respect of all the peoples of the world, and it ridicules the institutes of the United Nations and their credibility, and renders their existence ineffective, and reduces them to a façade behind which Western nations and their allies give themselves exclusive rights and privileges.

By the laws of this world every action has an opposite reaction, and lies have an expiry date, and hatred brews counter-hatred,
Only the wise, who have known those laws, who took the teaching of the prophets of the Semitic people, be they Hebrew, Aramaic or Arabic, can stop this chain of animosity, and thwart the fervour of bigotry, and stop the cycle of war and violence,

So next time they go back to the negotiating table, all sides will have to demonstrate to themselves, and to God if they truly believe, and to history, which will be judging quite differently from how they judge themselves: honesty and will to end the conflict,

Leaving their clever definitions and legal jargon and trickery behind,

They never worked in the past and will not work in the future,
What will work though is the acknowledgment from each side, that on the other side of the table are people like them, with feelings and hopes and fears and a need for safety and freedom,

If this takes ordinary and simple people or children to achieve, then be it,

They can leave the tough negotiators, and the experienced politicians behind,

This is the only way to have a fresh start,

Because the gods and the miracles that their religious leaders have promised them will not materialise,

Although they can continue deceiving the masses by telling them otherwise,

What will materialise though is their intention,

If this is geared towards the benefit for all the parties involved, the outcome will eventually be good,

And if the world community allows the Jewish people to return to their homeland, because this is their redemption in their belief, the world community has also to allow the Muslims to return to their homeland, because this is their redemption in their belief,

Otherwise, the world community itself has been drawn into the middle of this conflict, by taking one of those gods’ sides,

And this will be a lesson for the people of the world to learn: which god shall the world believe?

If the world believes in a god who takes sides in human feud, they can only expect to live in constant war.

Land does not belong to anyone, yet no one can force anyone out of their land,

But it would be a futile exercise now to find out who descended from whom, and who was in a particular land before whom, except perhaps in the case of the new worlds, such as American countries, Australia, African countries and a few others …

People have to forgive and forget, if they wish to live and prosper,

And perhaps as a rule, from a compassionate stand point: if a people are not invaders themselves, but a first generation and subsequent ones, then they have the right to stay and call that place home,

So the Europeans in the Americas and Australia and other places, cannot be sent back to Europe,

And the Hebrew people in Israel cannot be sent back to Europe,

This is a wish the Arabs have to give up, and to stop competing on hating the Jews and drumming up their plans of sending them back to Europe,

Because the Hebrew people belong there, and they are there now,
And the Hebrew people have to open their borders to the Palestinians, who wish to settle back in their villages which have been wiped out by the Hebrew settlers,

If the world finds it rightful for the Hebrew people to come back to where their ancestors were perhaps thousands of years ago, the world should also find it rightful that the Palestinians who left their homes just half a century ago have the same right of return,

This does not mean that the two people will be forced to live close to one another and mix, but it does mean that they have to respect each others’ traditions and ways of life, and above all, recognise that they both have equal rights of living in this land,

This will give both a chance to reconsider their understanding of their Books, because their Books are but one Book,

This is the true redemption of the people of Israel.


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